Horror At The Table

When it comes to tabletop gaming, I have never been able to figure out how to do horror games. As a genre, horror has to have several elements that must coalesce into a perfect whole:

– Sound
– Players that cooperate
– Lighting
– Pacing

That perfect mood seems to be a house of cards that a single errant gust of wind can blow down. A horror movie is much scarier when you are watching it alone at 1:30 am in a slightly creaky house than 3 in the afternoon with a group of friends that like to play amateur MST3K.

Maybe your table is different, but my table sometimes tends toward “amateur MST3K” hour. Therefore, I have never played or GM’d a horror game. With it being October, I am thinking about what makes a good horror game. Admittedly, I have absolutely no experience with this, but here are some thoughts on how to run horror game.

1) Your players must be cooperative and willing to stay “in character” as much as possible. If players are well…playing on their phone during the game, it will pull them out of the game. However, if they are cooperative, you might be able to overcome the other issues mentioned below.

2) The horror adventure should be low level. High level parties have so many options for either fighting, avoiding, or figuring out advance notice of the horror that it is just easier to have low level characters than to try out to maintain the horror by being able to out-think the players.

3) The horror adventure should be done in one session if possible. This requires great pacing from the GM and players willing to set aside a large portion of their day for the game.

Anything I missed?

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2 thoughts on “Horror At The Table

  1. –Fear of the unknown.

    That’d be the final factor. The game master shouldn’t describe more than what the characters sense. The downside to this is that players my try to counter their fears with humor, which one reason horror is so hard to invoke at the tabletop even if conditions are right.

    Liked by 1 person

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